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title: 'Syria Russia military action Lavrov' published: true publish_date: '31-08-2016 14:56' taxonomy: category:

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    The US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said US forces are “ready to go” if President Barak Obama orders a military strike on Syria. His comments come despite a warning from the Russian foreign ministry that such an attack could have “catastrophic consequences” in the Middle East. The crisis has been triggered by last week's deadly suspected chemical weapons attack outside Damascus, which the US and the UK attribute to the Syrian government. Russia's call for restraint Russia's foreign ministry said on Tuesday: "Attempts to bypass the Security Council, once again to create artificial groundless excuses for a military intervention in the region are fraught with new suffering in Syria and catastrophic consequences for other countries of the Middle East and North Africa," "We are calling on our American partners and all members of the world community to demonstrate prudence (and) strict observance of international law, especially the fundamental principles of the UN Charter." US cancels meeting Russia on Tuesday said it regretted a decision by the United States to shelve a meeting on the Syria crisis in The Hague this week, as expectations mount of military action against the Damascus regime. "Given our ongoing consultations about the appropriate response to the chemical weapons attack in Syria on August 21,"Washington has decided to postpone Under Secretary Wendy Sherman and Ambassador Robert Ford's meeting with a Russian delegation that was scheduled for this week in the Hague, a senior State Department official said. "It arouses regret that our partners decided to cancel the bilateral meeting"involving senior diplomats from both sides, Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov wrote on Twitter. He added such talks would have been particularly useful at a time "when military action is hanging over this country". "I hope common sense will prevail" - Lavrov In an emergency press conference on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: "They (the West) have not been able to come up with any proof but are saying at the same time that the red line has been crossed and there can be no delay,"Lavrov said, adding that calls for military action "contradicted" agreements from the G8 summit in Northern Ireland. "Using force without the approval of the UN Security Council is a very grave violation of international law," he said. His comments came after UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said also on Monday that an international response in Syria was possible without unanimous UN Security Council backing. "Is it possible to respond to chemical weapons without complete unity on the UN Security Council? I would argue yes,"he told the BBC. Lavrov said:“I heard Paris and London say NATO can interfere to eliminate chemical weapons in Syria without the authorization of the UN Security Council. This is very dangerous.” “I hope that common sense will prevail;"he added."We should think jointly to create conditions for reaching reconciliation and expressing tolerance to ethnic and religious minorities.” Putin, Cameron talk Russian President Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister David Cameron discussed reports of chemical weapons use in Syria by telephone on Monday. While Cameron said there was "little doubt" that the Damascus attack was attributable to the Syrian government, Putin maintained that there was no evidence to prove use of chemical weapons or their provenance. Strong language from Kerry Employing his strongest language yet, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday that Washington was still examining evidence, but left no doubt that Bashar al-Assad's regime would be blamed. "What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. It defies any code of morality," he said, in a televised statement from the State Department. "Let me be clear. The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity,"he said. "By any standard it is inexcusable, and despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable." Amid reports that US and allied forces are preparing to launch cruise missile strikes against the Syrian regime, Kerry warned that the chemical attack would have consequences. Force never works At his press conference earlier Monday, Kerry's counterpart Lavrov said Russia urges western countries “to act in a responsible way and not to repeat the mistakes of the past”, in particular the scenarios in Iraq and Libya. “Force has never ensured security or improved people’s lives," he said. "At present, the situation is unstable in the region. All efforts by the international community should be aimed at expelling terrorists from the country and preventing confrontation in the region. “We should give common and clear signals to the government and the opposition to settle the conflict by direct dialogue." UN Security Council member Russia has consistently held out against military action in Syria. Chemical weapons claims are "nonsense", says Assad Meanwhile, in an interview with Russian newspaper Izvestia published on Monday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said:"The comments (accusing the regime of using chemical weapons) made by politicians in the West and other countries are an insult to common sense... It is nonsense." He said the frontline in the area where the incident took place was not clear and the Syrian regime would have risked killing its own army forces if it used chemical weapons. "This contradicts elementary logic,"Assad said. "Such accusations are completely political and the reason for them is a number of victories by the government forces against the terrorists." He said it is "not us but our enemies who are using chemical weapons." Assad urges governments to listen to their people With calls mounting for military action against Syria, Assad warned western states to stop interfering in the affairs of other countries and instead "listen to the opinion of the people". "If someone is dreaming of making Syria a puppet of the West, then this will not happen. "We are an independent state, we will fight against terrorism and we will build relations with whom we want for the good of the Syrian people." US war record He warned the United States against attacking Syria and argued Washington's previous military campaigns in recent years had always fallen short of their aims. "The United States faces failure just like in all the previous wars they waged, starting with Vietnam and up to our days,"he said. "America has taken part in many wars but could not once achieve its political goals for which the wars were started. Yes, it is true, the great powers can wage wars but can they win them?"he asked. Contracts Asked about Russia's contract to deliver Damascus with S-300 missile systems, Assad said that "all contracts agreed with Russia are being fulfilled." "Russia is supplying Syria with what is needed to protect Syria and its people,"he said. Assad said Qatar was a "sponsor of terrorists" while Turkey "trains and provides corridors for them". Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, was a country "which only has money and someone who has just money cannot create a civilised society," Assad said. Asked about the chances of organising the so-called Geneva-2 peace conference backed by Russia and the United States, Assad replied: "We cannot start a political dialogue until the support from abroad for terrorism is halted." UN inspection delayed by sniper shots Unidentified snipers shot at UN experts on Monday, forcing them to delay by a few hours their attempt to investigate claims that chemical weapons had been used near Damascus, a UN spokesman said. "The first vehicle of the chemical weapons investigation team was deliberately shot at multiple times by unidentified snipers," said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky. No injuries were reported. The UN inspectors had been granted access by President Assad to the site of last week's suspected chemical weapons attack. On Sunday, Hague had said that any evidence that did exist in the environs of last week's attack may have been compromised in the intervening days. Lavrov, Kerry Lavrov told US Secretary of State John Kerry in a telephone call on Sunday that Moscow was "deeply alarmed" by comments from US officials indicating a readiness to intervene in Syria in the wake of accusations the regime had used chemical weapons, the foreign ministry said in a statement. "Sergei Lavrov drew attention to the extremely dangerous consequences of a possible new military intervention for the whole Middle East and North Africa region,"it added. Peace talks Lavrov told Kerry that it appeared certain elements inside the United States wanted to launch military action in Syria outside of the United Nations to undermine joint US-Russia efforts to organise a peace conference. The Russian minister urged his US counterpart "to refrain from using military pressure against Damascus and not to give into provocations." The ministry said Kerry promised to "attentively" study the arguments of the Russian side. Russia underlined the necessity of an objective UN investigation into the claimed chemical attack and repeated its doubts that the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad was to blame. "There is mounting evidence that the incident was a pretence set up by the rebel opposition with the aim of accusing the Damascus government of everything,"the statement said.. (Voice of Russia, AFP, ITAR-TASS)

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